2018, like every year does, took some of the brightest and most influential talents from the rock and metal world in tragic fashion. Cancer claimed the lives of founding Mercyful Fate bassist Timi Hansen and former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Bernie Tormé, while Prodigy's star vocalist Keith Flint died by suicide at just 49 years old. In addition to musicians, we lost a slew of heavy-metal visual artists, known for their iconic imagery for Judas Priest, Slayer, Integrity, Sunn O))) and more. Today we look back on some of the many notable artists, both musical and visual, who passed away during the last 12 months, with an eye to the legacy they each left, and send our condolences to their family, friends and fans. Rest in peace.
Famed session drummer Andy Anderson — best known for playing with Cure and Iggy Pop — passed on in February at the age of 68 just one week after announcing his terminal cancer. "It's totally covering the inside of my body," he told fans in a Facebook post while discussing the diagnosis, "and Im totally fine and aware of my situation." Anderson chose to go with dignity, asking not to be resuscitated, left to leave out his days as "a vegetable." "No Boo, Hooing, here," he wrote, "just be positive, for me it's ust another life Experience and Hurdle, that one has to make another Choice in life, be cool, I most definitely am and positive about the situation."
It's been a breakout year for horror-obsessed Boston metalcore act Ice Nine Kills, but 2019 was not without tragedy for the band, who bid farewell to former bassist Shane Bisnett. He died at just 31, leaving behind a wife and two young children. His work with the group can be heard on their 2010 record, Safe Is Just a Shadow, and INK paid tribute to him with both a special song, "Sunrise," and a benefit shirt released to raise money for his family. "You will NEVER be forgotten…#RIPShaneBisnett," they wrote in a simple but heartfelt post.
Visual artist Larry Caroll is revered by true 'heads for his iconic cover art for Slayer's unfuckwithable trilogy, Reign in Blood, South of Heaven and Season in the Abyss, as well as the later album Christ Illusion. He told Revolver in 2010 that following his collaboration with the controversial thrash titans, "Not many art directors were lining up to ask me to illustrate the next Aerosmith or Sting album. I think they were afraid of what they would get." Luckily for us, we got some of the most beautifully nightmarish pieces of art to ever grace the front of a heavy-metal record. Carroll, who also a fruitful career as a fine artist, passed away on May 21st at the age of 65.
After a long battle with esophageal cancer, Bruce Corbitt — the singer of Philip Anselmo–endorsed speed-metal stalwarts Rigor Mortis and Warbeast — died in January at the age of 56. Following his diagnosis in May 2017, Corbitt remained positive and would often update fans via Facebook Live updates on the status of his health, including one last stream when he announced he was entering hospice care. A true defender of the heavy-metal faith who had a deeply personal connection to the community, his Facebook wall continues to gather memorial videos, photos and comments from fans even now, nearly a year on.
Surf-rock pioneer Dick Dale died on March 16th of congestive heart failure after a long, 81-year life during which he revolutionized guitar playing and rock & roll. His love of distortion, loud amps and high-octane playing led some to dub him "The Father of Heavy Metal." The musician, who started out as a drummer, also drew on his father's Lebanese roots by using Arabic scales and, of course, reimagining a folk song with origins in the Ottoman Empire titled "Misirlou" — a.k.a. the Pulp Fiction theme.
Punk-rock icon and bass-wielding badass Lorna Doom died of breast cancer on January 16th, just 12 days after her 61st birthday. Doom, born Teresa Marie Ryan, answered an ad for "two untalented girls" alongside then-unknown Belinda Carlisle (a.k.a Dottie Danger) and joined short-lived rabble-rousers the Germs, featuring Darby Crash and a young Pat Smear (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), to make some of the most memorable underground music of all time as commemorated in documentary The Decline of Western Civilization. Germs co-founder Don Bolles broke the news with a simple post on Facebook that said only "Lorna."
Vocalist for Dutch black-metal acts Dodecahedron and Nihill, Michiel Eikenaar passed away from cancer on April 12th at the age of 42. Remembered for his commanding stage presence, the musician is survived by his wife and two children. "Death comes for all of us," Eikenaar's Nihill bandmate Vincent Koreman wrote in a statement. "It comes for the strongest, the brightest and the most loved, and Michiel was all of those things and much more."
Psych-rock pioneer and renowned singer-songwriter Roky Erickson passed away in late May of unknown causes. Though he struggled throughout life with paranoid schizophrenia and went through extended periods of creative dormancy, Erickson churned out five solo albums in his final two decades and returned to performing in 2005 after the debut of a documentary about him, titled You're Gonna Miss Me, at Austin's SXSW film festival that year. Famous fans, from Ghost (who covered his song "If You Have Ghosts") to Chelsea Wolfe (who covered "Night of the Vampire" after his death), paid tribute as news of his passing spread.
One of the most talked-about deaths of the year was that of Prodigy singer and British music icon Keith Flint, who died by suicide in March at the age of 49. Initially joining the group as a dancer, Flint was quickly promoted to lead singer before the release of the group's landmark 1997 LP, The Fat of the Land. Hits like "Firestarter," "Smack My Bitch Up" and "Breathe" — as well as his incendiary live performances — made him a star as the album became a worldwide hit, particularly in the U.K. and U.S. His final work with Prodigy came on 2018's No Tourists. The band memorialized Flint as "a true pioneer, innovator and legend."
Talented multi-instrumentalist and promising young artist Nature Ganganbaigal passed away in June at the age of 29. Leading the "Nomadic folk metal" band Tengger Cavalry, he fused the music of Central Asia and Mongolia with galloping heavy metal. His bandmates told MetalSucks following his death, "Nature's greatest goal in life was to unite people of all backgrounds through community and through music … We know that his music will live on and continue to help us find our common ground and find our strength despite adversity."
Former Mercyful Fate bassist Timi Hansen died at age 61 following a battle with cancer. The news was confirmed by his longtime bandmate King Diamond via Facebook. "He was not just my roommate on the early Mercyful Fate tours, but he was always my favorite bass player of all times," King Diamond remembered him. "I was fortunate to have been able to visit him at his apartment with some other good friends, and we had a great afternoon that will never be forgotten. ... Rest in Peace my dear dear friend." Mercyful Fate are set to reunite in 2020, with Joey Vera (Armored Saint, Fates Warning) playing in Hansen's place.
Visual artist Stephen Kasner passed away on Christmas day. He was renowned for his dark, ethereal artwork for Integrity, Sunn O))), ISIS, Justin Broadrick, Keelhaul and many others. He had recently returned to action after an extended hiatus due to debilitating health issues that led to chronic pain and severe depression. In 2017, his paintings were featured in the indie horror movie The Devil's Candy, and that same year, he was commissioned by Revolver to create an original multimedia piece inspired by Pittsburgh metallic hardcore stars Code Orange; the finished piece was printed on the last page of our October/November 2017 issue.
André Matos, best known as the former singer of the Brazilian metal band Angra, died at 47 as the result of an apparent heart attack. In addition to releasing three solo albums, Matos had also previously sung for the group Viper and was fronting the outfit Shaman at the time of his death. As news of his passing spread, many of his peers paid tribute, including Megadeth guitarist Kiko Loureiro, who played with him in Angra, and Sepultura's Andreas Kisser, who dedicated a June acoustic performance — which included an unplugged cover of Pantera's "Walk" — to the "Brazilian heavy-metal pioneer."
Former lead singer for Norwegian Eighties heavy-metal band TNT, Tony Mills died in September at the age of 57 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was also known for his tenure with British metal act Shy and his solo work, the latter of which included 2019's Beyond the Law. The vocalist's wife posted a touching tribute on Facebook that captured his sense of humor through to the very end. According to her, he spent many of his final days working on a dirt bike, and his final words were, "I've had a good life. I've had a GOOD life. I'm just a bit pissed about the bike."
Elijah Nelson, bassist for Seattle death-metal crew Black Breath, died in December at 40 years old. His band, which had been mostly inactive over the last few years, were at the forefront of the wave of American hardcore and metal groups that revived the classic Stockholm, Sweden, buzzsaw-guitar death-metal sound over the past decade. "Elijah was the Cliff Burton of death metal," wrote the members of defunct Swedish grindcore band Nasum, who toured with Black Breath on the final leg of their farewell tour. "He will be missed."
Keyboardist Mick Schauer can be heard on stoner-rock heroes Clutch's 2005 album, Robot Hive/Exodus, and 2007 LP, From Beale Street to Oblivion, and seen on the group's 2008 live DVD, Full Fathom Five. The group memorializing him on Facebook by saying the musician "brought a new sound to the band at a time when the band sought to stretch into new territory. Mick helped us achieve those goals and more." According to his brother Andrew, Mick passed away in his sleep in September.
One day after Slayer collaborator Larry Carroll shuffled off this mortal coil, the metal world lost another visionary when Judas Priest cover artist Rosław Szaybo passed at the age of 85. The Polish painter and photographer helmed more than 2,000 album covers, including many for the British NWOBHM pioneers. He also designed their timeless and instantly recognizable logo. While his imagery looms large, his own image does, as well: It's his actual hand on the cover of Priest's classic LP British Steel.
While brief, Bernie Tormé's stint in Ozzy Osbourne's solo band was memorable enough for the singer to make a heartfelt tribute to him following his death in March at age 66. "We've lost another great musician," said the Prince of Darkness. "Bernie was a gentle soul with a heart of gold. He will be dearly missed." The guitarist took over six-string duties for Ozzy in 1982 when Randy Rhoads was killed in a plane crash. Outside of that experience, Torme was a member of Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan's solo band and worked on several solo projects of his own and other collaborations throughout his life.
Experimental musician and 2014 Sunn O))) collaborator Scott Walker died in March at the age of 76. His longtime label 4AD announced his passing and said of the artist, "For half a century, the genius of the man born Noel Scott Engel has enriched the lives of thousands." In addition to a prolific solo career and collaborations with countless artists, Walker wrote numerous film scores, including the music to Natalie Portman movie Vox Lux, his final output.
British rock veteran and original Motörhead guitarist Larry Wallis passed away in September at the age of 70. Wallis played on the trailblazing band's album On Parole, which was recorded in 1975 but shelved until 1979 following the success of the group's first three releases. Despite leaving Lemmy and the gang in 1976, the shredder is credited as co-writer on the raucous 1977 track "Vibrator." In addition to these credits, Wallis is remembered for his work with Shagrat, Blodwyn Pig, UFO, and the Pink Fairies.